A Day After Police Recommendation, Lieberman Says He Will Quit Party and Knesset if Indicted

Foreign minister and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman surprised his party yesterday when he announced he would resign from the Knesset and as party leader if indicted.

Lieberman had previously only said he would resign as foreign minister if indicted.

On Sunday police said they had enough evidence to recommend charging Lieberman on counts of bribery, money laundering and obstruction of justice, among others.

Despite Lieberman's dramatic announcement, it barely made a splash within the party or political circles, since such an occurrence would only come in many months - at the very least - and could take even longer as Lieberman says he intends to request a hearing with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

Lieberman made his announcement at the beginning of a special meeting of the Yisrael Beiteinu Knesset faction yesterday. The press was invited to the first part of the meeting.

It was clear Lieberman was trying to project calm and business as usual as he opened his statement with a shot at the police.

"I am glad that after great effort and after the petition I submitted to the High Court of Justice, at least the investigation has reached its conclusion. I hope the State Prosecutor's Office will also give me a quick answer," he said.

Later on Lieberman added, "Yesterday I once again went over everything that happened and all I was asked and what happened to me in the past few years, and I am at peace with everything I have done."

Lieberman said that as far as he is concerned, the attorney general's decision whether or not to indict him after his hearing would mark a watershed moment, and if indicted he would resign as foreign minister.

"I assume that within three to five months I would resign from my post as party chairman and as an MK, in order to pass on everything in an orderly fashion," he said.

His remarks raised the question of who would replace him as party leader, with the two leading names inside the party being Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, Lieberman's confidante and right hand man, and MK Fania Kirshenbaum, who is also close to Lieberman.

Lieberman made it clear he thought he would never need to keep his promise to quit, and emphasized at the end of his statement that next year and the year after he would still be the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu and foreign minister.

"What is more important, in the next elections we will win over 20 seats as we promised," he said.

Lieberman said he slept just fine after the police's recommendation, saying "good health is the most important thing."

Kadima Party chairwoman Tzipi Livni attacked Lieberman at the beginning of a meeting of the Kadima Knesset faction, saying it was Lieberman's right to fight to prove his innocence, but it is not his right to attack the police and claim they are pursuing him for political reasons.